The Socialist Roots of Occultism

Marx satan

Caution: This illustration is highly misleading. (Image by Ross Wolfe, The Charnel-House blog)

We’ve grown accustomed to exciting titles that announce “the occult roots” of anything from Nazism to electronic music. While there’s certainly a lot of attention-grabbing hyperbole in such claims, it is true that much of the vaguely deviant, oppositional, and radical segments of Western culture has a touch of the occult – for reasons we are starting to understand quite well (tag: cultic milieu, occulture, rejected/stigmatized knowledge).

But what about the roots of modern occultism itself? In the (educated) popular imagination, occultism is generally considered an atavistic phenomenon, an anomalous and anachronistic flowering of irrationalism belonging to a bygone age. Some scholarship has continued in this vein, whether we think of the brand of intellectual historians that get embarrassed by its rational and scientific deficiency, or left-leaning, progressive academics who, like Adorno, see only a reactionary tendency that must eventually lead to a mysticized political irrationalism of the kind erupting in Germany in the 1930s.

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Searching for pictures of Comte on the internet again, are we?

Today this blog has existed for four months. It has grown steadily since the first post, with a marked increase in June.

One of the interesting things with writing about relatively separate things – from Mesmerism to 19th century scientism to eugenics in Norway to lectures on alchemy to Goetic ritual magic – is keeping a track on what’s being read, and from where. In the beginning I wasn’t very surprised to find that ritual magic, and things to do with Aleister Crowley tended to generate more hits.

I was a bit more surprised when the short piece on Comte’s religion of humanity started to sprint away from the other posts. It is currently the most visited one – and that with almost five times as many hits as #2.

Variations on “Auguste Comte” are the three most used search words to find Heterodoxology. Further down the list we find phrases such as “fotos de auguste comte”, “pictures of auguste comte”, and “imagenes de comte”. My humour has always tended towards the silly, but I find it a little amusing.

But my favorite searches are still “how to become possessed by demons”, and “are there any real angelic languages?” I am afraid whoever came for answers to those must have navigated away rather disappointed.

Published in: on July 6, 2010 at 4:25 pm  Comments (1)  
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Positivism and the Religion of Humanity

Auguste Comte (1798-1857) formulated some very influential ideas, and some ideas that were plain weird. The “father of sociology” argued for a full science of society, and invented the progressivist “Law of Three Stages”.  By the 1840s Comte had founded the highly influential philosophy and ideology of Positivism. What next? He founded a Church and proclaimed himself High Priest.

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